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A CAPELLA REVIEW

Hot A Capella on a Cold Winter Night

Exuberant Muses Dazzle Crowds with Sheer Talent

By Thomas Eng

MIT Muses, with Bassix

10-250

Dec. 6, 8 p.m.

Last spring, Marjan Bolouri ’04 wrote that at the Muses’ next concert, they would undoubtedly perform to a standing room only crowd. If not for the audacious blizzard raging through the Eastern seaboard, her prediction would have been correct. Even with the terrible weather, the Muses’ charismatic and energetic style combined with their unrivaled singing talent was more than adequate to fill 10-250.

The concert opened with the well-known “Tech Cheer” to introduce their cover group, Bassix, an all-male a capella group from Northeastern University. Relaxed and full of energy, they presented an eclectic seven-song set. Their opening song, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” was rather weak and lackluster, failing to reach the same emotional depth as the original.

Their other songs, such as their rendition of the Scottish folk song “By Yon Bonnie Banks” and the hymnal “Oh Holy Night” by Chappeau de Roquemaure, were emotionally stirring and captivating, as their stronger soloists rose to the spotlight. “Oh Holy Night” was a clear choice for the holiday season, with its religious overtones. Bassix was even able to continue an unscripted improvisational a capella harmony despite a lighting problem in the middle of their performance. They rounded out their set with renditions of Moxy FrÜvous’ “Gulf War Song” and Fountains of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom,” two humorous pieces that ended their performance on a high note.

In typical dramatic fashion, the Muses stole the spotlight by dancing onto the stage from both sides with a fantastically MIT parody of “Stand by Me,” entitled “Muses Amuse Me.” Soloist Anastasia Rodriguez ’04 gave depth to lines such as “When I can’t find a date on a Saturday night, then those hot Muses will be there to amuse me” while excellent choreography expanded with tantalizing (if not saucy) imagery and suggestive poses. The effect on the crowd was clear, as they responded with enthused cheers and clapping.

Not a single one of their songs was sung with difficulty; it was obvious that they had practiced long and hard. The backup singers harmonized and complemented the soloists with near perfection, utilizing their wide vocal range and mastery of different styles. Wham’s “Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)” featured the powerful and confident voice of Sheena Hembradorm’06.

Combined with expressive choreography, Stephanie Cho ’06 delivered a beautiful solo performance in the GoGo’s “Head Over Heels,” showcasing her clear, impressive voice. The energetic and expressive voice of Charlene Shih ’07 resonated with emotion, in a slower, more natural version of Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi” which showed more depth and understanding than Lavigne’s version.

The expected skit in the middle of their performance was absolutely hilarious. Jen Fishe ’07 needed a new ass from sitting for too many hours in front of an Athena terminal, so she went to the nearest department store to find a better one. After examining several possible choices, she ended up choosing the newest model with several different “vibrate” modes.

After the break, Liz Lin ’06 and Frannie Weld ’05 gave solid solo renditions over a wide range of artistic styles from The Pink and Sneaker Pimps. However, during “Goodbye Earl” by the Dixie Chicks, a technical problem with their sound system failed to bring out the soloist’s voice -- you could hear the speakers cracking with distortion as they failed, overshadowing the voice of Caroline Reilley ’06 in the chorus.

As with tradition, the Muses invited their alumni up to the stage to sing their classic “How High the Moon” for a vibrant and interesting contrast to their previous format of solo performances. Even though one of their alumni came dressed in white instead of their classic black, it was clear they integrated back as a single group very easily with a confident style seen in their solos.

The evening was a resounding success, demonstrating once again that the Muses are one of the best a capella groups on campus, with effective percussion, choreography, choral harmony, and of course amazing solo vocalists. They have already mastered the spectrum of songs written and performed by female vocalists. Could they possibly challenge themselves with a song sung traditionally by men?